If we are going to be honest, we're loving Jimmy Rollins right now. Before he lifted his proverbial foot, placed it smack-dab in his colossal mouth, and put the Phillies organization on notice, nobody expected anything different from this bunch known for being afflicted with postseason allergies.
The Phillies are usually fine in May, before the baseball equivalent of a sneeze jump-starts their June. A cough in July and August progresses to bronchitis by September. Right around the time fall officially arrives is when full-blown pneumonia kicks in, when baseball in Philadelphia is sent to bed, giving the Phillies months to come up with the latest pathetic excuse for why they've been spectating since 1993 - and counting.
That rhythmic flow didn't transpire exactly like that last season, but the end result was the same. The Phillies ended up being just good enough to make things interesting. Good enough to ride Ryan Howard's coattails. Good enough to get competitive after handing the New York Mets the NL East months earlier. Good enough to be in the latest wild-card race, right before losing to the Nationals on a Sunday afternoon in the nation's capital, ending all hope, yet again.
The song and dance got old a long time ago, so it was good to hear Rollins run his mouth and bring some intrigue to the mix, which is worth repeating.
"Look at our team and what we're bringing," the Phillies shortstop said. "Look at the improvements we've made. You look at the rest of the division. The Mets had a chance last year to go to the World Series. They made it to the playoffs. They won the division. Congratulations, but last year is over. They can take that any way they want, but I'm just stating a fact."
The Mets don't matter. They're totally irrelevant, devoid of anything to prove. Winning a division, like the Mets did, instead of sniffing your nose in the air for it, like the Phils are, breeds credibility - not an appetite for it.
Give Rollins credit for knowing as much, for verbalizing what all of us should expect from the Phillies.
Wins. A berth in the postseason.
Or somebody's head on a platter if it doesn't happen.
Steve Phillips, baseball analyst for ESPN, told me to "watch out" for the Phillies months ago. So did the great Peter Gammons. And as you scour the major leagues player by player, everyone notices what the Phillies have done.
They've given Chase Utley his $85 million. They've added Freddy Garcia to their rotation. They've got a potential phenom in Cole Hamels and someone everyone believes would easily be a consistent 20-game winner in a bulldog known as Brett Myers were it not for the mini-box known as Citizens Bank Park.
Now all we need is a legitimate reason to care, which can occur only if the Phillies do what they are supposed to do.
"Look at our team," Rollins repeated.
Oh, we're looking!
We know Rollins is a very good National League shortstop, but can he take last year's .277 average and 25 home runs and get on base more consistently? Can he take more pitches? Be a bit more selective and work the count? Get more than 36 stolen bases?
Will the Phillies really provide some help for Howard (58 homers, 149 RBIs), or are they just going to continue to pray that Pat Burrell, whose star dimmed a long time ago by the way, will somehow resurrect himself and improve upon that .231 batting average whenever he played in a real baseball park instead off at Pattison and 11th?
Considering Rollins' proclamation, coupled with the reality that, minus the Phillies' slow start, they had a solid season last year, and there's validity to his bravado regarding where this franchise should be standing in the NL East when all is said and done.
The Mets' ace this season is 41-year-old Tom Glavine. That, in itself, says all that needs to be said about the precarious state of their organization.
If the Phillies are going to do something, the time is now. All the parts are in place. In this town, you stake a claim, you must deliver.
Chances are the Phillies aren't happy about this at all. Somebody probably went to Rollins and wanted to smack him in the mouth, no doubt electing to roll his eyes and choose a different path instead.
After all, this franchise doesn't like pressure. Mainly because it doesn't come without expectations.
The players must be different.
"The Phillies probably were the most active team in the division," Glavine told reporters the other day. "But what you do in the winter, it looks good and it's nice to talk about. But it doesn't equate to anything."
Rollins and the Phillies know this.
That much is not open for debate. What the Phillies will do about it, we can only wonder.